April 23, 2009
Books Written by Saints are their Testament
Saints do not write books out of fondness for writing; on the contrary they do so with great reluctance. Their knowledge is intuitive, and comes directly from the Lord. Do you think Samartha Ramdas and Eknath wrote their books after repeated reading and study of the Jnyaneshwari? It is inevitable, of course, that they express some thoughts already set forth by predecessors. The saints’ works are their testament. Which father would bother to write a testament if he were sure that his sons would behave properly? It is only written by one who is not sure in that respect. Similarly, saints have written not because they liked to do it, but purely out of compassion for the well-being of suffering fallen souls like us. Such books are closely connected with our life; they set forth philosophical principles which are directly applicable in everyday life.
Shri Samartha Ramadas has in his Dasabodha raised doubts and queries on our behalf and answered them, too. A person who does not think of his lasting welfare is an obvious fool, but one who tenders gratuitous advice is doubly guilty. Saints accept even this blame and try to preach spiritualism, and it is in our interest to attend to it.
When reading a spiritual book we should carefully look for the sadhana advocated for attaining the goal. If we carefully select the most suitable sadhana we can be sure of success. We should read only books pertaining to spirituality, which we want to be proficient in. If we want to study mathematics but read only fiction, how can that lead us to success? To attain spiritual ideals, therefore, we should study only the saints’ works, and ponder and meditate on them.
With the mind firmly fixed on God, we should let the body and its affairs drift on the current of fate; they may sometimes be in a pleasant state, sometimes otherwise; floating on a straight course for a time, nearly sinking at another. However, under any circumstances, our mind should be peaceful and blissful. We should learn to look objectively at ourselves; this we can do if we surrender ourselves mentally to God and physically to prarabdha or destiny. The feeling of pain of the body should be treated with indifference, and not allowed to affect the mind to any depth. Pursuit of nama helps us achieve this.
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April 22, 2009
Association with Saints, Best Means to Attain God
To be born a human being, to meet a saint, and to recognise and associate with him: these are the rarest things on earth. That is why living with a saint is incomparable good fortune. It may, in fact, be termed the king of sadhanas. Saints eradicate all desire in a man; and then there remains nothing to be acquired.
The body of a person performing religious rituals very meticulously, automatically acquires a characteristic radiance or aura; such you may not find with a saint, but his body is invariably a fit temple for divine knowledge. The ways and means of acquiring pleasures of the senses may be better known to us worldly-minded persons, but the blissfulness that is beyond the capacity of the body and that transcends time and space can only be obtained by remembering God and thereby being oblivious of the physical body. That is divine bliss; and only a saint can guide us in realizing it. One may go to a saint with the object of fulfilling some mundane desire, but the saint will manage to send him back divested of all wishes; in fact, one who achieves this for every person that approaches him is a true saint —nay, he is God Incarnate. We should long to meet such a one. Saints make us cognizant of the Ultimate Reality. The true achievement of human life lies in following a saint’s behest in word, deed, and spirit.
All persons sitting in a railway train reach the terminal station, irrespective of the class they travel by, and even those without a proper ticket. Similarly all persons living in the company of a saint reach the terminus, namely, the Ultimate Reality. The wicked, the sinful, the unrighteous, the unworthy, and the despicable, who may be said to correspond to the ticketless; these, too, will achieve liberation. The only proviso is that they do not leave the train en route, that is, they hold on to the saint’s company. Therein, indeed, lies the greatness and the glory of a saint.
In man’s quest for liberation, association with saints is of paramount importance. This association can be obtained in three ways: physical association, association with the mantra conferred by the saint, and association with his lofty thoughts and teaching. All these kinds of association exert an influence that takes place almost unawares, but is quite positive.
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April 20, 2009
Blessed are They who Get the Company of Saints
Be not disturbed by occurrences in worldly life, or troubles of fate, nor any upadhi; to be unmoved by these is true samadhi. A shadow is not washed and cleansed even if it falls on mud or dirt; that applies to the body, too, but the saints alone are able to realize this. Divest yourself of all desire, keep your mind clear, unprejudiced, and innocent, like a child’s. It will be your highest achievement if you maintain your discriminative power alive and awake and keep the mind occupied in nama. Thorough contentment will be your reward if you still vagrant, futile fancies, and keep the mind busily engaged in Rama-nama. A perfect sadhu is one who surrenders himself completely to God, and who is delightfully engrossed in the contemplation of God. Enjoy peace of mind by burning all urge of desire and relinquishing all awareness of self. Believe honestly that you belong only to Rama and that He belongs to you.
One who abandons the ‘body-am-I’ feeling can alone profit by association with a saint. Do not attach importance to the body or bodily action of a saint; you have to transcend your own body-consciousness in order truly to comprehend Him. To have love for nama is the mark of a saint. Saints really make life fruitful for those who honestly associate with them. Even after the physical body of a saint dies, his influence on the world continues to act. So we remember him and seek to serve him day and night. Blessed, indeed, are they who live in association with a saint. One who has unflinching faith in a saint will definitely attain to God. Keep your attention riveted on a saint even while your body maybe attending to worldly business.
Saints never forget that Rama is the real doer, and therefore they can guide others. We should have darshan of a saint, and follow his advice always and in case of difficulties, so that worldly life will be easier for us to go through. If we follow a saint as an ideal, we shall never come to harm. Having thus achieved contentment, we should also guide others to the means thereto.
One who yields himself up to a saint completely, need seek no other means for salvation. Unfortunate, indeed, is he who happens to meet a saint but turns away from him.
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April 18, 2009
Saints See Divinity even in Worldly Things
Everyone possesses the emotion of devotion, for, broadly speaking, devotion is nothing but deep liking, or love. Liking for worldly objects is due to body-consciousness; people instinctively like worldly objects, and are devoted to them. Unless this liking is diminished, devotion to God will not arise. So the first step in the bhakti-marga is to remember God’s name selflessly, without expectation of any fruit or reward. The last stage consists in being completely unaware of the body and of ‘self’. The body is to be preserved and protected for the sole purpose of attaining God. It is better to die than to live solely for passion and the pleasures of the senses.
All our religious festivals, like the birthdays of the divine incarnations and the anniversaries of the saints, aim at creating love for God. Even if we have no love for the divine to begin with, we seek to create it by making such offerings as we would to a living loved person. There is a reciprocal relation between love and such offerings. Such offerings bring us closer to God and enhance our love for Him. It is common for a mother to dress her child with the best clothes and trinkets she can afford, because she enjoys doing it, although the child itself may be feeling uncomfortable in them, and may even protest against them. Similarly we try to heap offerings on an icon of God for our own pleasure; otherwise, what does God lack or want?
Saints see the divinity even in sense-objects, whereas we seek sense-pleasures even in icons of the divinity. For instance, we praise the elegance of the sculpture of an idol, or the beautiful architectural design of a temple. Our mind being full of sensuousness, we notice even divine things from a sensuous viewpoint. On the other hand, the mind of a saint is all occupied with God, and so he sees God in everything. It is said that one can see God Rama on completing thirteen crores of japa of Rama-nama; this requires a dozen years or so to complete, if one spends ten to twelve hours every day in japa. With such intense longing and perseverance, one’s mind naturally becomes thoroughly charged with Rama.
Meditation on nama never goes waste; only, we should take care not to expend it on any material desire. Meditation on nama should be purely for the sake of nama itself.
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April 17, 2009
Saints Remind us that We Belong to God
When doing anything, the purpose for which we do it is clearly in the mind. Similarly, while meditating on nama we should ever be alive to the object of doing it. To remember at all times that we really belong to God, and neither to the body nor to sensual, worldly matters, is to maintain His awareness constantly. We actually belong to Him, but lapse into the illusion that we are of the palpable world. The saints reawaken us to the reality, and this, indeed, is their true mission. The panacea they prescribe is meditating on nama, which, in effect, is a persistent reminder that we belong to God and not to worldly pleasures.
You say that you want to see Rama, but how would you recognize Him even if He were to present Himself to you? To that purpose, you must annihilate the present distance between Him and yourself, and must be able to identify Him. This needs absolute purity of heart, that is, of feeling. One may perform different types of devotional disciplines and exercises, but they will all come to nought in the absence of genuine, loving devotion for Him. These disciplines will undoubtedly create devotion in course of time, but spiritual efforts performed with devotion will expedite the attainment of the goal. Of the nine kinds of devotional-disciplines, complete dedication is the simplest and the most important. If we completely surrender ourselves to God, whatever we do automatically gets dedicated to Him.
It is necessary for everyone to see wherein lies his weal. Others can advise about the path, but it is upto the person himself to act. The real cause of our “bondage” is not the environment but our own mental attitude. It is only nama that can be practised irrespective of time, state, or circumstances. To be able to preserve one’s contentment under any condition is really God’s total grace.
By devout contemplation of God one automatically acquires occult powers which, however, are considered despicable. So we should meditate on God, but ignore these powers and never use them. Our meditation should be for God’s sake only, without adulteration by desire. The saints never put their powers to use; being merged in the Supreme Being, they completely resign everything to Its will. When they do appear to be performing miracles, they are only prompted by that Supreme Being.
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